The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers IAM, the largest airline union in North America, announced on Friday it will file an application with the National Mediation Board NMB. The federal agency conducts union representation elections in the airline and railroad sectors.
According to IAM, JetBlue's ground workers have cited issues including below-standard industry pay rates and benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions and unjustified discipline and terminations.
IAM District 141 President Mike Klemm said that JetBlue workers are a smart, strong and determined group of workers and we can't wait to welcome them into the IAM family. The IAM will support JetBlue workers in getting to and winning the election and negotiating a union contract that reflects their true value to JetBlue Airways. A JetBlue spokesman told FOX Business that the airline values its relationship with all crew members and provides them with competitive pay, benefits and opportunities in a safe environment. The carrier said it is the only major U.S. airline that has not furloughed its employees or issued WARN Act notices.
The spokesperson said that we are always working to serve our crew members by listening and responding to concerns. We believe that the direct relationship we have with our ground operations crew members has worked and will continue to work, and that third-party representation and the costs to our crew members are not in their best interests. As of the end of 2021, JetBlue had 15,452 full-time crew members, according to its latest annual report. More than 46% were represented by unions, including 3,850 pilots and 4,833 in-flight crew members.
The move by ground operations staff comes because JetBlue reported a larger than expected loss in its second quarter and has embarked on a cost-reduction program and accelerated Embraer E 190 aircraft retirement plan designed to save approximately $250 million through 2024.
In July, the company agreed to acquire Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion, beating out a competing offer from Frontier Airlines. The companies expect to close the transaction by the end of 2024, and the regulatory process will be completed by the end of the year.
As of the end of 2021, approximately 81% of Spirit Airlines' employees were represented by five labor unions. As of the end of 2021, Spirit had 9,218 full-time employees.